By Laura Silagi
It just came to my attention that there was a response to my January article about the Santa Monica airport. I stand by all the facts I presented.
To update what has been happening since then, last Tuesday, March 25th the Santa Monica City Council held a meeting focusing on the future of the Santa Monica Airport. As a representative of the Venice Neighborhood Council’s Santa Monica Airport Committee, I focused on the unfair treatment dealt to Los Angeles residents by the city of Santa Monica. As long as there is an airport in Santa Monica, of whatever size, it is important for Los Angeles residents’ health and safety that the city of Santa Monica changes two practices.
First is the policy that is called the “Fly Neighborly” program that “Highly Recommends” prop planes to turn south over Venice and then east over Mar Vista. The flight schools have used this route for training and the majority of prop planes flying east do the same. The FAA, in a meeting with our committee said that this policy is solely one of Santa Monica. These prop planes rain noise and lead pollution down on our homes, parks and schools.
The other unfair practice of Santa Monica has been to block any change of jets departures. If jets were to fly northerly on take-off there would be no conflict with LAX departures, as there is when these planes fly over Venice toward the ocean. This conflict means that jets departing SMO have to idle waiting for permission relayed from the LAX tower to the SMO tower that the SMO jets are cleared for take-off. This idling results in extreme levels of black carbon and ultra-fine particles blowing into the neighborhoods to the east. This pollution has been documented by scientists at UCLA. Also, those under the take-off route have been plagued by noise and jet fuel pollution for years.
Reminding Santa Monica of their unfair practices falls upon us. No citizen group or individual in Santa Monica is doing it.
The Santa Monica City Council meeting did have a great deal of positive outcomes, however. Here is a summary described by Airport2Park, a Santa Monica group working toward turning the airport land into a park.
“Santa Monica, CA, March 26, 2014 – After nearly four hours of public testimony the Santa Monica City Council last night voted unanimously to begin the process of reclaiming the land at Santa Monica Airport for the benefit of the whole community. ‘We are on the way to getting our park,’ said Airport2Park spokesman Gavin Scott. ‘It’s a great day for this city, and we applaud the council members for their vision and courage – and for listening to the people of Santa Monica and surrounding communities.’
Following staff recommendations, additional recommendations from the Santa Monica Airport Commission, and ideas from the public, the council directed staff, among other things, to begin creation of an Airport Concept Plan to identify low-key land uses for when the airport closes, including the possibility of a park and firmly excluding commercial development. The process would start with the 35 acres known as the ‘Western Parcel’ that the City will take control of July 1, 2015 (when a 1984 agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration expires).
To emphasize the City’s determination to take control of the whole airport, the council decided to free itself up by paying back $250,000 in grant money previously received from the FAA and rethink the rules for renting airport buildings after the current leases end July 1, 2015, as well as ending or limiting the sale of dangerous, polluting aviation fuel.
Airport2Park, the organization residents formed last summer to advocate for building a big public park on the airport site, sent a delegation of five members, each of whom spoke for two minutes, laying out the case for the need for and feasibility of building the park.
According to Mr. Scott, the group was particularly grateful for the forceful statements by council members, including Mayor Pam O’Connor and Council Member Kevin McKeown, denouncing the fear-mongering tactics of aviation interests who claim that if the City closes the airport, outrageous development will take its place.
Airport2Park is also grateful for the outpouring public support against the airport’s continued operations and in favor of Airport2Park’s vision for a great park.“
By Laura Silagi